Stan Brakhage I

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The Way to Shadow Garden

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

Here’s something new. The sharpness of Brakhage’s b&w imagery continues, and now these editorial discontinuities establish a subjectivity, an interiority that he will pursue, with increasing intense purity, ever after. What’s it about? Well look at these wrinkled sheets—it’s still and always the same old problem for this young man. He should go serve somebody, maybe get a library card. On the other hand, how healthy to admit and talk about the travails of burgeoning sexuality, here in the allegedly and, let’s face it, sometimes/demonstrably repressed 1950s.

The eyes! This young man’s dilemma is actually more basic, more fateful than the Oedipal scenario, either by Sophocles or Sigmund Freud. And this raw central performance deserves special commendation. Here is a brave bit of self-exposure exposure by Mr. Newcomb, who serves as Brakhage’s alter ego. The final switch to a negative image is really stunning, visceral and then, on reflection, absolutely apt. And, let us remember, he’s still only 21 years old!